Reflecting on Valentine’s Day


Illustration by Sean Gannon

Gavin Victor, Opinion Columnist

          It’s not just that Valentine’s Day was created by greeting card companies. Holidays are always contrived in some sense. The problem with this holiday has multiple tiers: one tier is that people need a holiday to tell them when to express their love. The deeper tier is that people feel like they are doing something wrong if they don’t take this day to express some magnified form of how they “really” feel.

         “Don’t wait until they are dead to give them flowers” is a resonant quote here. It’s so easy to fall behind on expressing love, and it can take an event of great significance to make us realize this. Valentine’s Day is essentially the death of authentic appreciation. It is a way we can feel like we have caught up on our loving, but in reality, it is completely artificial.

Illustration by Sean Gannon

        The hard part is how great it is in theory. Valentine’s Day: a celebration of love. It sounds like exactly what the world needs. It’s something completely different. For the most part, we buy a heart-shaped box of chocolates and a card that catches our eye, maybe take someone out to an expensive dinner, and pat ourselves on the back, proud of ourselves for being so great. If we’re lucky, we may share a moment of silent eye contact, in which some sense of genuine appreciation bubbles up, but we move on quickly. Don’t forget, we have work in the morning.

        But it’s not a bad thing, Valentine’s Day. It’s a little bit of a good thing that stands in place for a great thing. We just must realize that it negates more good, being the expression of authentic love and appreciation, than it implicitly contains.

        Imagine picking a bouquet for your significant other, or sending an appreciation text to a best friend, on a day other than Valentine’s. Is that not infinitely more powerful? The difference is that the expression of caring isn’t expected. Expectation makes it insincere.

        This isn’t even to mention the strain it puts on those not in a traditional romantic relationship. It is likely a significant blow to the almost 50 percent of the population that are single. I’d argue that this reminder of loneliness rivals the sense of love it is meant to propagate. Valentine’s Day suggests there is something wrong with being single, when in reality being single is often healthy and beneficial to an individual.  

        I’ll soften up. It doesn’t have to be bad. It’s bad if it’s one of the only times we feel comfortable opening up to someone else. In a close relationship, honest communication is a must; besides, affection is a good thing in such a relationship. Tell them how you feel, be real. There shouldn’t only be one day where we focus on those we love. And if we get to that point, maybe we don’t need Valentine’s Day. Maybe we can express our love as it unfolds and not dump our expressions of gratefulness into one day, where they are degraded because they are expected.